While babywearing is an ancient, global practice, it was not a particularly common one for our own parents’ generation. Because of this, Grandma’s familiarity with babywearing is probably limited. While she may be supportive of your decision to wear your baby, her lack of knowledge about its benefits can keep her from wanting to jump in and wear her grandchild herself. And really, who can blame her? Babywearing can be intimidating at first! However, with the proper support and guidance, grandparents can experience a successful babywearing relationship with their grandchildren.
We know there are countless benefits to wearing our own babies from birth, but what about the blessing it can be to new, doting grandparents?
Thanks to the resurgence of babywearing in recent years, many grandmas (and grandpas, too!) are becoming comfortable with the idea and are even willing to give it a shot themselves. Not only does this make them the hippest grandparents on the block, but wearing their grandbaby creates an incredible bond between the two of them. From the moment your little one is placed in a wrap snuggled next to Grandma or Grandpa, she will begin to recognize their voice, scent, and face. What an sweet and intimate way for them to strengthen their connection!
Wearing a baby can also bring simplicity and ease to a grandparent who is in a caregiver role. As we know, using a properly fitted wrap takes loads of pressure off of the wearer’s body. Quality wraps are made to distribute the baby’s weight evenly throughout the upper body. If Grandma is accustomed to carrying baby around in her arms all day, babywearing will give her sore back and achy arms a welcome relief.
Of course, Grandma will also appreciate the freedom babywearing allows her hands so she can care for other grandchildren wanting attention or whip up her famous chocolate chip cookies.
Yet, maybe the most alluring benefit of grandparent babywearing for a new mom is the ability to rest easy knowing baby is happy, safe and secure when you have to be away. With your baby peacefully snuggled close to Grammy or Gramps, you and your partner can feel better sneaking out for a quick dinner or movie!
Clearly, the benefits to grandparent babywearing are abundant, but is it really safe? The answer is: Absolutely! If a person is capable of carrying a baby in their arms, is in good health, and is willing to abide by safety precautions, they are most likely a great candidate. Of course, if they are ill, frail or prone to falls, skip the babywearing and find another way for them to create a special bond with baby.
We get it, you are passionate about wearing your baby and can’t wait to share the experience. Just remember to take Grandma’s prior babywearing knowledge and experience into consideration. Before flinging a wrap over her shoulders and heading out the door to yoga class, make sure she’s comfortable with the entire process by following these steps:
- Sell Grandma on the practice of babywearing as a whole. Talk about the benefits and why it is so important to you as a parent.
- Invite her to participate. Once Grandma has her “aha” moment, invite her to participate in babywearing. Treat it like a badge of honor, but also be sensitive if she’s just not comfortable quite yet. (Many who are initially opposed come around after a while, so stay positive if she rejects the idea in the beginning!)
- Be honest and transparent. Be upfront about the challenges new wearers sometimes face. Share about your very first babywearing experience, whether it was love at first wrap or completely awkward. Hearing how you overcame difficulties can give her the confidence she needs to feel adequate.
- Explore the options. Next, consider purchasing a wrap just for Grandma. Introduce her to a few of the styles available on the market today. Have her try on your own favorite wrap. Take her to a fun, local baby boutique to try on various options. You may also want to ask friends who own wraps if they would allow her to try thiers on for size! This way, she can become familiar with the styles that fit her personality and body type.
- Time to shop! Once Grandma has decided on a style, you can shop online or locally for the perfect color or print. You’ll definitely want to make sure she chooses a quality-made wrap. No skimping on this one! She’ll need one that is comfortable, simple, and relatively easy to put on and take off.
You’ve Got This, Grandma!
The saying “practice makes perfect” has never been more true than with the practice of babywearing. Once the chosen wrap arrives, it’s time for baby, Grandma, and wrap to meet. Will they instantly be joined together in perfect harmony? While it’s possible, there could be a bit of a learning curve. Remember, it’s not uncommon for anyone to end up with a big mess the first time they try to wear a baby. With that in mind, set yourselves up for success with these first time tips!
- Happy baby. Make sure that baby is in a good mood. A well-fed, well-rested, clean and happy baby will be much more willing to participate.
- Use a decoy. If baby is particularly squirmy, try practicing a few times with a doll or even a small sack of potatoes before adding your little one to the mix.
- Be informed. Make sure you have the instructions handy. Look them over and familiarize yourselves with the steps well before attempting to put baby in the wrap.
- Relax. If Grandma or your little one gets frustrated, take a break and revisit the process later. This should be a fun and enjoyable experience for both of them!
- Find support. If you feel like Grandma may need a little more hands-on support from other babywearers, locate a babywearing support group in your area. You never know, she may even meet other babywearing grandparents to befriend!
If you are dedicated to the process and offer loving guidance along the way, your baby’s grandparents are fully capable of enjoying a successful babywearing experience. This incredible bonding practice will bring the entire family closer and help foster healthy relationships for your child into adulthood.